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Musfiq Huseynov in July 2007
The president of Azerbaijan has granted amnesty to an opposition journalist who rights groups say was jailed for his critical writings.

Musfiq Huseynov was among 99 people granted amnesty by President Ilham Aliyev.

Huseynov, a reporter with the opposition "Bizim yol" (Our Path) newspaper, was jailed for six years in 2008 on charges of accepting a bribe.

Huseynov's relatives said recently he was suffering from tuberculosis in prison and that they were worried about his deteriorating health.

Azerbaijan has faced persistent criticism over its heavy-handed treatment of independent media, most recently in a European Parliament resolution criticizing the jailing of opposition journalists.

compiled from agency reports
Opposition leader Nikol Pashinian waves a "victory" sign as he is taken to a court in Yerevan in July 2009.
State prosecutors have demanded that opposition leader and newspaper editor Nikol Pashinian be sentenced to eight years in prison for his alleged role in deadly street violence that followed the February 2008 presidential election, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

The sentence would disqualify Pashinian from a general amnesty that was declared by the Armenian authorities in June.

It would also effectively invalidate his chances of victory in a January 10 by-election to the National Assembly.

The editor in chief of the "Haykakan Zhamanak" newspaper was registered as a candidate for the election earlier this month despite being under arrest and on trial.

The lengthy jail term was demanded on December 22 after Mnatsakan Martirosian, the presiding judge, declared an end to the cross-examination of the defendant and witnesses and proceeded to the final phase of the trial.

The final indictment was then read by prosecutors.

Koryun Piloyan, another prosecutor, told RFE/RL that their final speech was essentially drawn up "several days ago."

Defense lawyers, meanwhile, presented additional evidence and video materials relating to the March 2008 clashes between opposition protesters and security forces.

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.

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